The Night Fire: Ballard and Bosch together again

What is this about?: Harry’s mentor is dead leaves behind a case file that Harry begins to investigate with Renee’s help. That however, is as always with these guys, the tip of the iceberg.

What else is this about?: The book gives us more insight into how these two work together, and what else is happening their lives. That is particularly interesting because Harry is at a crossroads in his life with medical issues, coming out of the Bosch series. However, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything not knowing how he got to this point. It’s what he does in this book that’s matters.

Blurb

Harry Bosch and LAPD Detective Renee Ballard come together again on the murder case that obsessed Bosch’s mentor, the man who trained him—new from #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly

Back when Harry Bosch was just a rookie homicide detective, he had an inspiring mentor who taught him to take the work personally and light the fire of relentlessness for every case. Now that mentor, J.J. Thompson, is dead, but after his funeral his widow hands Bosch a murder book that Thompson took with him when he left the LAPD 20 years before — the unsolved killing of a troubled young man in an alley used for drug deals.

Bosch brings the murder book to Renée Ballard and asks her to help him find what about the case lit Thompson’s fire all those years ago. That will be their starting point.

The bond between Bosch and Ballard tightens as they become a formidable investigation team. And they soon arrive at a worrying question: Did Thompson steal the murder book to work the case in retirement, or to make sure it never got solved?

The Night Fire opens with Harry attending the funeral of his mentor, JJ Thompson. This was the man who took a young Harry under his wing and taught him to be the man he is today — the man who will still seek out justice for the dead, even if he just proved a suspect —  everyone else assumes is guilty — innocent. Justice doesn’t particular have a side for Harry — it doesn’t matter who is guilty or not. It’s that the right person gets put away.

So when JJ’s widow gives him an unsolved murder book, he begins to investigate, drawing Renee into the case as well. Very quickly the question becomes: why didn’t JJ investigate the case, and simply held on to this book for 20 years? What secrets is he hiding?

Renee and Harry

The dynamic between Renee and Harry is what keeps me hooked on this series. Renee is angry at the circumstances that brought her to The Late Show in the department, but she’s also found where she belongs. She is intelligent and manipulative in her own way, and it is satisfying watching her bring the man who sent to her to the night shift to heel when she manipulates him into getting her a wire tap warrant. I enjoyed reading about her navigating the night shift, going where Harry can’t go and getting the information he has no access to. It’s easy to see how far Renee could have gone in the department had she not had an experience with a Captain that sent her to the night shift.

There are chapters that alternate in their POVs, but this book is more Harry-heavy in some ways, I think. We learn about his health issues, and the effect that has on Maddie, his daughter — and what she is going through at university. There’s nothing like that for Renee, but I guess that could be saved for the next book that focuses on her.

What is interesting in Harry’s chapters is that we see him in action with Mickey Haller, yes this Mickey Haller, who is his brother. Or half-brother to be more exact. They’re a team who works well together in this, but it made me want to see how they started and what brought them together.

Renee and Harry are adept at working on several cases, while working together on JJ’s, but when things do start to dovetail, they do so seamlessly. What sticks with me is that this is a procedural, but never once did I feel like I was reading one.

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